Edgartown selectmen warn errant aquaculturists to obey the rules

Edgartown Police Department will get $90K landscape upgrade, covered by town resident’s gift.

Edgartown selectmen voted to close Sengekontacket Pond’s commercial oyster season on March 31. – File photo by Sophia McCarron

The Edgartown selectmen considered the history of shellfishing violations by aquaculturists Francis Fisher Jr. and Francis Fisher III on Monday, and ruled that one more written complaint of a violation during the current lease term would mean the end of their lease. They would then be required to remove all their cages and equipment. The town shellfish committee had recommended the action.

Town administrator Pam Dolby clarified the selectmen’s action. “If there is one more written violation, at the end of that year’s lease, they have to get their stuff out of there,” Ms. Dolby said.

“You guys just have to get along with the shellfish committee,” said selectman Michael Donaroma. “We listen to the recommendations of the shellfish committee.”

The shellfish committee had asked that the younger Mr. Fisher appear before the board for the renewal of his aquaculture license with the town. Shellfish constable Paul Bagnall gave the selectmen a documented six-year history of violations by the Fishers. The shellfish department’s letter to the selectmen concluded, “You can see that both Francis and his father have been cited for various infractions over the years that primarily concern keeping gear and activities confined to their leased area.” Shellfish leases are valid for three years. The Fisher leases are in Katama Bay.

Mr. Bagnall also cited noncompliance with the Massachusetts Department of Fisheries Vibrio harvest protocol (Vp) by not keeping a Vp harvest logbook. Vibrio is a bacteria which can flourish in oysters and cause a host of illnesses in consumers. The state requires fishermen to keep a log of time of harvest and time of icing on the tag of each bag or container of oysters, and must ensure that those oysters are iced within two hours after harvest or exposure by tide.

Mr. Fisher attended the meeting with his wife, Laurie Fisher. He told selectmen that the rules now are more comprehensive than before. Mr. Fisher said that in the past, “It’s been more lenient.”

Mr. Bagnall agreed that the current regulations are more stringent than in past years. “We’re rewriting rules and wild harvest regulations and licensing,” he explained. “We’ve been cracking down.”

Mr. Bagnall also presented selectmen a schedule for oyster harvesting. Pursuant to the recommendation, the selectmen voted to close Sengekontacket Pond’s commercial oyster season on March 31. Mr. Bagnall also asked to open the Great Pond to oystering on Monday, April 3, with a closing date of April 28, for racks and tongs only. Limits are two 10-gallon wash baskets per day, Monday through Friday. He also said his department would attempt to open the Great Pond to the Atlantic this Saturday.

Selectmen also heard procurement officer Juliet Mulinare’s recommendation to award a landscaping contract to beautify the Edgartown Police Department’s facilities.

Ms. Mulinare advised the selectmen to approve the $94,820 bid from TDR Landscape and Irrigation after checking into the references of the lower bidder, Acme Excavation, at $93,285.00.

Ms. Mulinare expressed concern over a few of Acme’s references she had spoken with concerning the company’s work. She said most of the references were for sidewalk work, not installation of landscaping materials. Ms. Mulinare also said that Acme was more than a half-hour late for a site visit required for the bidding process. Most of the recommendations spoke to Acme’s ability on smaller projects, not municipal projects, Ms. Mulinare explained.

The work at the Edgartown Police Department was donated “by a prominent town resident who will have his eye on this work,” Ms. Mulinare said. “A neat and administratively sound contractor is necessary for this work.”

The selectmen voted to accept Ms. Mulinare’s recommendation and awarded the contract for the landscape construction project to TDR Landscape and Irrigation for $94,820.

Ms. Dolby reported that copies of the town’s annual meeting warrant would be in the mail Monday or Tuesday of next week, and that the town reports would be ready a week from Friday. Ms. Dolby also said that the town website was hacked over the weekend, and that town information and technology manager Adam Darack worked for approximately three hours to fix the problem.

“It took about three hours to get it back up,” Ms. Dolby said. “He’s working on figuring out how it happened so it doesn’t happen again.”

After the public meeting concluded, selectmen were joined in executive session by Chris Scott and Gary Conover, who are part of a small committee that also includes Mr. Donaroma, to further discuss the purchase of the Yellow House. The selectmen will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, March 22, at 5:30 pm to give the community an opportunity to ask questions and weigh in on the town’s purchase of the property.